Instructables

Does anyone know how to make a mini portable washing machine?

The ones I have found online just look like large blenders. Has anyone figured out how to hook up a small motor to an agitator and/or barrel or drum? What could you use for the spinner? I'm just chewing on low-cost ideas on how to make a machine I could use in my small trailer.

shamancharlie6 months ago

im trying to figure this one out. I was thinking a ceiling fan motor, got the idea when i seen a diy pottery wheel www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpimQeM4zYY. as for agitator havent found solution but beleive the small electric ones dont have one. been using the bucket and plunger but wringing out the clothes sucks

shamancharlie6 months ago

im trying to figure this one out. I was thinking a ceiling fan motor, got the idea when i seen a diy pottery wheel www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpimQeM4zYY. as for agitator havent found solution but beleive the small electric ones dont have one. been using the bucket and plunger but wringing out the clothes sucks

Hi, did you ever get a reasonable solution to this? I've been looking around, too, but I've come up pretty empty-handed.

I did have a very small amount of luck in finding a guy on Youtube who seems to collect/repair/build washers. Check out the username "baralhovio" or search "mini tanquinho", "mini lavadora". He has a couple of small-scale builds, as well as bigger ones (like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPZQdVWCeWs). This tanquinho washer doesn't agitate, but rather spins, but seems like it would be easily adaptable with the right parts (washer motor, pulley, a couple of buckets...?) and electrical know-how.

The power drill idea is a good one. An old hand speed mixer from the thrift shop, too (smaller motor, though). You'd just need to figure out how to adapt it so you can take the human out of the picture. My knowledge of electronics is too limited to have more than a general idea.

So far the best option I've found, and it isn't DIY, is the "Wonder Washer" and a spin dryer from somebody like Laundry Alternative, and a clothesline + fan. It ain't pretty but it works. Youtube user "solitaryref" demos both, and they seem pretty solid. Just need to figure out how to DIY them. :)
ClaudiaRN4 years ago
I used to live on boats and concur with the use a plunger in a bucket! I never had a top on mine but will remember that one! You can start off by doing it while you are in the shower (on boats I had to conserve water). Soak overnight first to loosen up dirt. Works great. If may bleed, like some sweaters, do one piece alone. 

I still do this for hand washing items, and do a final spin out in my washing machine, so drying time is WAY reduced. Hanging dripping wet shirts on hangers to drip dry helps reduce the need to iron too!
I use a cordless drill, a bucket of sudsy water, and a paint-mixer bit (found in hardware stores for $7). I wring the clothes out by hand, then hang. I have seen small portable washing machines, both battery operated and crank-powered... but they're expensive and usually pretty crappy.
sound915 years ago
The following is what I have used on camp outs. Take a five gallon bucket, and cut a small hole in the lid. Just large enough for a plunger handle to fit through, then locate a plunger. Fill the bucket with water, clothes, and one cap full of laundry detergent. Repeat with clean water twice. When washing and rinsing, only fill bucket one third full. Then, allow clothes to dry outside. I have removed mud stains, grass stains, and more with this method.
arnold54 (author)  sound915 years ago
I appreciate your idea. That would really be a low cost solution. I may try that if I don't have anything less physical. Thanks, I'll keep it in mind.
jtobako5 years ago
A full washing machine is complicated. You could mechanize some parts of hand washing. For instance, you could put some fins inside a bucket (like a cement mixer) and spin it back and forth with your hand. A salad spinner/centrifuge type arrangement with holes in the bucket could be spun like a rock tumbler (or use the vacuum assisted dryer somewhere here).
arnold54 (author)  jtobako5 years ago
Thank you all for the comments. Yes, I've been thinking along the same lines but really need some plans to overcome my lack of problem solving. Appreciate your suggestions.
landmanhall5 years ago
Thats a great question? Being single, I sometimes need a shirt and some socks washed for a night out. A small washer would be great. Im thinking of a small container with holes all over it (to expell the water when spinning) inside of another water tight container (5 gal bucket?). Im cant think of a good way to power it or to even mount the whole thing. Basically the clothes can soak in a detergent/water soution, agitate for a period of time, spin and rise the detergent out, then spin most of the water out. Washing by hand sucks. Sorry I dont have more input.
NachoMahma5 years ago
. Look around RV (recreational vehicle) sites and see if you can get any ideas.